Friday, December 23, 2011

December Round-up 2011

December 2011

Winter arrives - Norman poses with snow capped Mount Chokai in the background
Note too, the now harvested rice fields in the foreground
Here we are again! For the second year running I have found myself in an unavoidable position of preparing Roxy for another long winter 'rest' period. I have recently returned (during November) to Tsuruoka and Shonai Airport to perform some ongoing (and annual) maintenance tasks on Roxy - background jobs that need to be done to every aircraft in order to keep it fit and healthy. Performing these works, on a UK registered aircraft whilst sitting in rural Japan however has given their own complexities, especially when you are also obliged to work to the exacting UK CAA standards throughout the process.

Mr Kanda getting to grips with a
big torque-wrench during maintenance
Ever up for a collective challenge however, between the airport Management Staff, ANA maintenance Department Manager (Mr Kanda) and the collective muscle of the airport fire station personnel we were able to source all the requisite tools and equipment needed to complete the tasks in hand.
Happily I can now report that Roxy is well prepared to weather the bitter winter conditions that can see 6ft (2 meters) of lying snow as 'normal'

Green is the colour! And not
 just the work overalls,
temporarily replacing the famous
'Red Suit', coolant is made
 highly visible so leaks can
be detected more easily.
 One of the important jobs has been to replace the summer coolant in the engine.
This had been introduced in Thailand and of course was still perfectly suitable last winter in the tropical 30 degrees 'winter' of the Philippines.
But now with the harsh Japanese winter conditions approaching and with the next stop being Russia and the Arctic Circle, it was an essential task to change the coolant for a version containing much more anti-freeze properties.

Test running the engine up to operational temperature on the apron at Shonai Airport after coolant exchange -
November 2011

You can see from the picture here - of a recent overnight snowfall in Tsuruoka - good anti-freeze is obviously quite important!

No wonder with this amount of snow that some other precautions are taken for the onset of winter. One of the more interesting activities that takes place every year (and highlights the ingenuity of the Japanese in protecting their treasured natural environment) involves protecting all the ornamental trees from these very heavy and sudden falls of snow. The method involves erecting a strong pole up through the branches of the tree, off which an intricate array of rope supports are attached to hold up each of the boughs. In this way when the tree is heavily laden with snow the support pole and ropes take most of the additional weight and the tree doesn't suffer from any broken branches.

And Finally...

With Christmas time fast approaching, it has been fascinating to watch the ongoing preparations in Japan for this festive season. Iconic features that are known the world over, such as the traditional Christmas Tree, is of course very much in evidence. However, this being Japan, things don't always turn out quite as first expected...and the splendid tree seen in a Tsuruoka shopping mall is a case in point. On first glimpse you are impressed by the fine array of decorations on this classic tree, however, on further and closer inspection the wording of the Christmas message at the base of the tree can't help but leave you feeling slightly bemused...

For me, this slightly wayward Christmas message sums up something of the character of such a fantastic, quirky, dynamic, optomistic, unique society that Japan exhibits in abundance.
Circumstances beyond my control have dictated that I have spent a lot more time here than expected - I am very please to report however that this extra time has turned out to be a fascinating experience.

Hopefully the Russian Red Tape will be cleared away to allow a late Spring continuation of the Circumnavigation. In the mean time, during the winter months, I will be kept busy writing up the full account of the numerous adventures that have happened so far in this unpredictable global expedition; situations that you couldn't have even imagined prior to the take off day back in March 2010. Who would have thought then that the flight would still be ongoing right into 2012!!

It only remains for me to wish on behalf of everyone at Gyrox Goes Global, all the best for a happy festive season and hope that we all have a peaceful (and non-bureaucratic) New Year.


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1 comment:

  1. Terrific Blog Norman.
    Roll on 2012 and the restart of your journey.